Must-knows before celebrating Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan!

Members of the Happy Dragon Boat (小梅時光龍舟隊) during practice ahead of this year’s Dragon Boat Festival.(Photo courtesy of Wang Chien-yu)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — If this is your first time celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan, here are just a few things you need to know (and do) to get into the spirit! 

The Origin of the Festival

Portrait of Qu Yuan by Chen Hong-shou (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in Taiwan, the Dragon Boat Festival is held to commemorate Qu Yuan (屈原), a high ranking official as well as a poet that lived during the Warring States period. Qu was exiled by the king and later drowned himself in the Miluo River (汨羅江).

To prevent his body from being eaten by the fish, people rowed boats and threw rice dumplings into the river. This then became the setting stone for the tradition of eating sticky rice dumplings (zongzis, 粽子) and racing dragon boats during this holiday. 

Hanging Wormwood

Hanging wormwood. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

During the Dragon Boat Festival, it is customary to hang wormwood in front of your house. According to ancient tales, this grass is the sword of the gods.

Because wormwood is believed to be effective in preventing diseases and driving away evil spirits, people would hang these tufts of grass on their walls or door handles to ward off insects and bad luck.

Eating Zongzi

(Shutterstock)

Zongzi is the traditional dish everyone eats during the Dragon Boat Festival. The tradition of eating zongzis is to pay homage to Qu Yuan and his dedication towards the nation.

Many see the act of eating zongzis as a sign of filial piety, and may also eat it when preparing for tests, as zongzis (粽子)sounds similar to “making the cut” (中) in Chinese. 

Egg balancing

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

It is said that at noon during the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, anyone can balance an egg on its head. The key to egg balancing is patience and internal peace.

If you would like to take part in this activity, many temples or department stores in Taiwan host egg-balancing contests for all to participate.

Dragon Boat Rowing

(Shutterstock)

Last but not least, a great activity to participate in is the dragon boat rowing competition that takes place in Taipei.

This year, Taipei’s competition will take place on June 25-26 at Dajia Riverside Park. Although the competition signups are closed, you can still attend the festival and watch the competitions from the side.

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